A PHOTO appearing to show former US president George HW Bush with his hand on actress Heather Lind's rear end has surfaced, prompting his office to release a statement claiming the gesture that was meant to be "good-natured".
The photo was taken four years ago, with Lind posing with Mr Bush and Mrs Bush while promoting her series, Turn: Washington's Spies, MailOnline reported.
Lind's co-star Kevin McNally has backed up her claims that she was sexually assaulted
Mr Bush responded to the allegations in a statement from his office that reads: "At the age of 93, President Bush has been confined to a wheelchair for roughly five years, so his arm falls on the lower waist of people with whom he takes pictures.
"To try to put people at ease, the president routinely tells the same joke - and on occasion he has patted women's rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner. Some have seen it as innocent; others clearly view it as inappropriate.
"To anyone he has offended, President Bush apologises most sincerely."
The Sun reports that in an Instagram post, Lind accused Mr Bush of touching her "from behind from his wheelchair with his wife Barbara Bush by his side", adding he told her a "dirty joke".
She wrote: "When I got the chance to meet George HW Bush four years ago to promote a historical television show I was working on, he sexually assaulted me while I was posing for a similar photo.
"He didn't shake my hand. He touched me from behind from his wheelchair with his wife Barbara Bush by his side. He told me a dirty joke."
The 34-year-old claimed that his wife Barbara Bush "rolled her eyes" at Mr Bush, "as if to say 'not again'".
According to the social media post - which has since been deleted - a nearby security guard told Lind that she "shouldn't have stood next to him for the photo".
She alleges: "We were instructed to call him Mr. President. It seems to me a President's power is in his or her capacity to enact positive change, actually help people, and serve as a symbol of our democracy,' the lengthy post went on.
"He relinquished that power when he used it against me and, judging from the comments of those around him, countless other women before me."
Her post continues: "What comforts me is that I too can use my power, which isn't so different from a President really. I can enact positive change. I can actually help people. I can be a symbol of my democracy.
"I can refuse to call him President, and call out other abuses of power when I see them."
Lind used the hashtag #MeToo which has become a viral trend for people to share their allegations of sexual assault.
A representative for Mr Bush, now 93, admitted that the former president might have erred in his "attempt at humour".
In a statement to the newspaper, the ex-president said: "President Bush would never - under any circumstance - intentionally cause anyone distress, and he most sincerely apologises if his attempt at humour offended Ms Lind."
Part of this article originally appeared in The Sun
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.